I love it when a story surprises me – and Spontaneous has done just that.
Not going to lie – I put this one on the back burner for a week or so – it gave off a little too much of a “romantic/comedy” vibe from the trailer and synopsis – and well, I don’t tend to watch many of those but – this one kept popping up when I opened my screener app so tonight – when it showed up at the top of the list, I hit play – and then this happened.
While based upon a horrific prospect – high school seniors exploding like overfilled water balloons – Spontaneous has more heart and life lessons than an after school special. The thing is – it’s presented in such an entertaining and unbiased way, you don’t even realize the heavy message that is floating just under the surface of this awkward little film.
Some context – as the film opens we find ourselves trapped in an overfilled classroom with your typical rogue’s gallery of high school senior characters. The jock, the joker, the freak, you get the picture. It is here that we meet Mara – your die cast school hottie, more worried about how her hair looks and what jock she’ll be hooking up with for prom than any of life’s real issues charging at her, like college, SAT scores, and the rest of all the fun senior year brings. That is until the girl in the seat in front of her explodes. This isn’t your run of the mill – Scanners type explosion – as the film goes out of its way to explain, and show – these kids liquify. It’s awesomely disgusting.
Naturally, the school, the police, and the health department investigate, and while all this is going on Mara, and a few of her close friends begin questioning life, its meaning, its purpose, and so on. As a result of all this a new kid in school, Dylan decides he has nothing to lose and inserts himself into Mara’s life – blindly sending her a text stating that he has admired her since the first day he saw her. A bold move, given that the school population is popping like overfilled bed bugs.
This single move of admiration starts both our leads – and those around them down a path of self-awareness that is handled with love, respect, and just the right amount of humor. Kudos to writer/director Brian Duffield who adapted the novel from Aaron Starmer – and has handed us all a sweet and sticky little tale – about learning what is truly important in life.
While at its core – this film is a teen romance, make no mistake about it – the red stuff flows hard and heavy. I don’t want to give away many details but you need to trust me here – the blood comes in buckets and the horror is earned because you will grow to care for our leads. There are some incredibly touching scenes in this films 1 hour and 41 minutes run time – our mismatched couple goes on an adventure that most adults couldn’t handle and through humor, and caring for one another, find a way to grow and blossom.
Firmly anchored by our two leads – Katherine Langford and Charlie Plummer this amazing love story, punctuated by moments of smile-inducing tenderness and gut-wrenching bloodshed – Spontaneous has earned my respect if for no other reason than I can honestly tell you that I’ve never seen anything else quite like it.
Check this one out when you can because as the film so amazingly points out – tomorrow we could all just be a blood stain on our friends sweater.
This one gets 4 out of 5 stars.